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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Express Times: Comforting the Comfortable, Afflicting the Afflicted

I'm old enough to remember the days, long before the Internet, when newspapers were the gatekeepers. They did provide a public service by sending out small armies every night to cover everything, from municipal meetings to high school sports. But they regulated what public knew, and what it did not, and often in a dishonest way. Thanks to the Internet, those days are over. Thanks to the Internet, people like me can tell you when a newspaper like The Express Times is feeding you a big, fat juicy bullshit burger. The Express Times is doing just that, with extra horseshit sauce.

Although Congress and Harrisburg are both usually caught up talking about abortion or gay rights, that's really a smokescreen. The real problem in this country, as most of you already know, is that you don't make enough money. Many of you may be making less than you were ten years ago. while working longer hours. Some of you have been forced to take on an extra job, not for a Summer home or a trip to Europe, but to pay for your children's education. In some cases, it's to put food on the table.

In 2012, the income of the wealthiest 1% rose 20 %. Good for them. For the rest of is, it was just 1%. In fact, for the bottom 90% of the population, income dropped about six percent between 2010 and 2013.

The American Dream is becoming a nightmare.

In a climate like this, organized labor is more important than ever. That includes public sector unions, as anyone working in Northampton County should realize. Yet starting last week, The Express Times launched an attack on them.

It started with a story about an annual fund drive conducted by the Nazareth Borough Police Association. Mayor Carl Strye and a Council member obviously contacted the press in an effort to get some bad publicity. Never mind that Strye was the President of a social club that for decades has been routinely charged with possessing illegal poker machines. Never mind that Strye's fire company conducts one or perhaps two fundraisers of its own every year.

The Mayor hinted that money raised might help pay for some of the litigation in the grievances that these officers are forced to file (and win) against the Borough.

My guess is that some money might go to that, but as I explained in a post last week, the money raised also funds random acts of kindness. This includes a used car that police officers purchased for a woman after her own jalopy was totaled in a hit-and-run. It includes $500 in cash to a single mother who is at her wit's end and already works two jobs.  It also includes $500 in college money for a high school senior who writes an essay that officers like.

The reporter who wrote this story knows all this because I told her and wrote about it on this blog. Though the Express Times has no problem lifting one of my stories to create its own, as it did with last week's story about the firing and re-firing of the Plainfield Police Chief, it failed to acknowledge these uses of the money.

In fact, the paper tried to manufacture a few resident complaints. It called two citizens I know in an attempt to get one of them to bash the police union for conducting a fundraiser. These residents refused to play along, even when the reporter told them that residents were complaining.

After publishing a story designed to smear the Nazareth police union without telling the public the full story, the editorial board jumped in and awarded these officers a turkey for daring to solicit funds. Never mind that one of them, Officer Stephen Schleig, had just received a commendation for saving a citizen's life. According to EMT Anthony Skorochod, Officer Schleig started an "AED fibrillation which saved the guys life." (Of course, Skorochod and the other EMTs deserve recognition as well).

Basically, the paper allowed itself to be used by a power structure in Nazareth that is intent on destroying the police union.

Is it any wonder that officers like Lahovsky won't return the paper's calls?

The newspaper continues its bashing. On Sunday, it published an editorial citing four recent arbitration rulings as proof that the "process is out of whack."

A little more than one year ago, I might have agreed with this editorial. But I sat in on the kangaroo court in which Bethlehem City Council voted to fire Officer Hoffman. It opened my eyes. That was a predetermined decision if ever there was one. I saw and heard Bethlehem police officers who were subpoenaed to testify against Officer Hoffman. At considerable risk to their own careers, most spoke on his behalf. I watched in disgust as a council member called a bar bouncer a hero, although my own evidence revealed that he was under house arrest at the time.

Nobody was interested in why this happened. Nobody cared that, two years before this accident in which no one was hurt, Officer Hoffman was holding a dying police officer in his arms, trying to keep him alive. He was the first outside officer on the scene when Officer Robert Lasso was brutally murdered.

We increasingly have recognized that veterans suffering from PTSD will often act erratically, and are trying to get them help instead of punishing them. Certainly we should give as much consideration to a police officer.

In the Lahovsly case, I read the ruling. The paper has, too. It knows Lahovski was exonerated on all but one minor matter. In fact, the record in that case shows that Nazareth officials were exercising a vendetta.

The teacher mentioned received a suspension equivalent to 1/3 of a year.

The Express Times is exhibiting an anti-union bias at a time when most of its readers are struggling to make ends meet. But does it serve those readers or does it serve developers like Mark Mulligan, who will soon be the paper's landlord? Is it interested in telling the truth, or is it interested in access?

I admire and respect much of what The Express Times has done over the years. But in the final analysis, that paper is a sell-out no different than The Morning Call is a sell-out from within the NIZ. One reports to Mulligan, the other to J.B. Reilly.


Anonymous said...

I tried wrapping a fish with The Express-Times. The fish slapped me for disrespecting it.

Everyone knows ET is a rag.

Other than Tom Shortell, there are no decent reporters contributing to it.

Anonymous said...

You are correct Bernie! When will Americans wake up! The unions are needed more than ever. Regan's trickle down theory never worked and never will. Both papers should be ashamed at what they pass for news.

Anonymous said...

The local edited out news sources are working to keep the public misinformed¿ This being said, only those that can afford to search for the truth about the fictisious economy created by the media monsters¿

The internet is a worldwide tool and locally Bernie and MM are true dinsours with there truth and even sometimes humor with there investigative newsworthy reports¿

patent pending

Anonymous said...

Dear History Major,

That would be Roanld "Reagan".

Please continue with your rant!

Anonymous said...

It's very simple. The standards for just cause were established by the Daugherty test. Every arbitrator subscribes to that test:

Was the employee forewarned of the consequences of his or her actions?
Are the employer's rules reasonably related to business efficiency and performance the employer might reasonably expect from the employee?
Was an effort made before discipline or discharge to determine whether the employee was guilty as charged?
Was the investigation conducted fairly and objectively?
Did the employer obtain substantial evidence of the employee's guilt?
Were the rules applied fairly and without discrimination?
Was the degree of discipline reasonably related to the seriousness of the employee's offense and the employee's past record?

Most employers get tripped on the last two tests. If you are going to fire an employee, you must show a record of firing all employees for the same offense.

Anonymous said...

The Express Times is disgusting in their incessant need to build databases of people's salaries so that they can fill their vile comment sections with attacks, uninformed judgments, and never ending complaints.

They really have it in for anyone that chooses a career working for society in a public manner. Sure, their salaries are public but the ET takes it several steps into the resentment building game unnecessarily.

Bernie O'Hare said...

They have the right, but they should recognize that not all rights should be exercised. How is society served by reporting the wages paid to a low-level worker? It is an attempt to build up public resentment against public sector workers, which private sector employers can then use to justify wage and benefit reductions.

Anonymous said...

Please someone, am I retarded? Please tell me this kid's name. I read this article 4 times. I still can't find his name. All I know is his name is Moran and his lady friend's name is Mary Moran.

This is always how they write articles.


Anonymous said...

It is very obvious you and Lahovski are sleeping together. The Pick up was his and he let the person use it for a year, The $500.00 went to a cleaning lady that works part time for the Borough and the ALL NEW $500.00 Scholarship appears right after the money hungry letter went out to the public. SMOKING MIRRORS for the Union. Why didn't Lahovski return a call to the paper, perfect timing to explain himself. By not doing that, it all seems more suspicious. I am so glad we have a cop on the street that does not care one bit about Nazareth or its citizens other than how to screw them. Keep supporting this nut bag, it falls right into your horrible reporting! What a joke!

Bernie O'Hare said...

And your name is? Actually, people in Nazareth like Officer Lahovski. The borough council does not but they don't like anyone in a union.

Anonymous said...

I was a union officer in the public sector for many years. In cases where employees were fired the decision was made early on to fire them. Any thing they did was scrutinized beyond what was normal for other employees. Actions were always given a negative connotation while things the employee did well were ignored or delayed. In many cases the employer lied or presented them selves as having qualifications that they did not. When arbitrators r the labor board ruled against them they went to the local rags complaining that the system was unfair. The Express and the old Globe Times are/were against unions 100% of the time.

Bernie O'Hare said...

And having a bias is fine. But be honest. Admit your bias instead of pretending to be objective. What bothers me are the news accounts. Today's story about Easton's public sector is designed to make them look like gold bricks and make people in the private sector jealous. The story about fundraising is a put up. Mayor Strye. And perhaps one or two members of borough council want to run down the union and are using the paper as their bitch. The reporter called two residents I know fishing for a complaint and didn't get one. Now get this. The reporter knows that a resident will be at council tonight to complain. She knows this bc it is a put up. She calls the union demanding a reaction when she should know she is being played or is an active participant herself. After being repeatedly bashed, the union is not going to talk to her. I am posting this early so I can refer to this when my prediction comes true.

Anonymous said...

Private unions have been done in by public sector unions. Public sector unions are easy to purchase and control. Democrats know this and don't bother with wily and unpredictable private trades unions. The two types of unions should not be lumped together. They are vastly different creatures.

Matt Miles said...

So long as "news organizations" receive money for advertising, there will never be unbiased news, and when guys like Bernie do something like this for free, you get what you get and don't get upset.

I just wish people would just have the common-sense to realize that there is no such thing as objective journalism.

Anonymous said...

7:22Your statement doesn't make any sense. The public sector unions have had no effect on the decline of the private sector unions. Private sector unions declined because of moving plants to the south and other countries as well as technological changes. In some industries the companies failed to keep up quality or make products that were attractive to consumers.

Anonymous said...

Some public employers go beyond bias to a need to go after employees for no real reason. It seems to be a sport with some people